Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Real doctor, two flights up.

My kids are off to college. Today, I went through the dorm list for my darling daughter. One of the items is a first aid kit. My husband, being of the medical persuasion, mails us. "I'LL take care of the first aid kit."

Next thing I know orders are dinging into my inbox. Ice packs and special tweezers for splinters. Anti-itch cream and alcohol wipes. Hydrocortisone and triple antibiotic. Wound wraps and ace bandages. Pepto Bismol and stool softeners.

Nexcare Waterproof Clear Bandages, in assorted sizes. 50-count, pack of 4. Yes, that's 200 waterproof clear bandages, always useful when you happen upon the occasional 100-car pileup in the middle of a downpour.

Gauze SPONGES, fer crouton's sake. I'm talking the kind surgeons are always pulling out of patients and tossing into metal trays on Grey's Anatomy.

THREE sets of medical bandage scissors. Three.

Two thermometers.

A blood-pressure cuff and pulse oximeter.

And a six-pack of Visine.

If he'd included a suturing kit, an IV setup, and a case or two of normal saline, my darling daughter could run her own little operating theater out of her dorm room.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

On the Pulse of the Morning

I learned of Maya Angelou on the day William Jefferson Clinton was inaugurated. After an uncertain four years with the elder Bush, the inauguration felt like ice cream on a hot and humid July afternoon. I was not much into poetry in those days, but this lady I'd never heard of stepped up to the podium and read and by the time she finished, I knew I'd never been much into poetry because I'd never really listened to it. Since that day, back in 1993, On the Pulse of the Morning, was my go-to written comfort food. On the days nothing went right, I googled it and read it. On the days everything went right, I googled it and read it. On the days, I felt so weighed down by grief and sorrow I did not think I could lift my head, I googled it and read it. And on the days all was good, the birds were singing and everything appeared to be unfolding as it should...you get the idea.

So today, when I read the news that this great lady's voice is now silent forever, I googled it and read it and decided that every day, I will have the courage to look up and out and gaze upon the rock and the tree and all else she found so profound. And today, I have the grace to look up and out and gaze once more upon her honored face reading this beautiful work and say to her, wherever her spirit now wanders, simply, very simply, "Thank you."

courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


So I crawled out of the cave in which I'd been hiding the past few years and put a few months in cleaning up my manuscript. Then I sent it to my agent. She got back to me before my next birthday and suggested an editor. The editor is a wonderful gal, who has had the manuscript for a while now. The edits are due back soon. I contacted her recently and she let me know that she enjoyed being immersed in my world. I figure that's editorial code for "You will be rewriting and editing this mess until your grandchildren have children."

I'm on the glacial track to success. Try not to be jealous.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Protagony and the Ecstasy

When it comes to protagonists, I'm like a duckling fresh out of the egg. The first name I see is where I lay my loyalty and if the author does a change up, even in the next paragraph, I get grumpy. I'm so recalcitrant in this attitude that in Gary Corby's debut, The Pericles Commission, which begins with:

A dead man fell from the sky, landing at my feet with a thud. I stopped and stood there like a fool, astonished to see him lying where I was about to step.

I'd have imprinted on the dead guy if the second clause hadn't referenced "my feet" and the next sentence hadn't begun with "I". I'm so stodgy and stubborn, were it not for those facts, I'd have clamped onto that dead guy and insisted on following him, relegating every other character in the story to a subordinate position, which would have made for a short read, being as the guy was dead and all.

In The Man in the Empty Suit, Sean Ferrell makes it easy ,for me: "It is unfortunate for me, that I am, by most any objective measure, a genius."

I am happy. The unfortunate genius is my protag. Now let's see what happens to him.

The Kite Runner: "I became what I am today at the age of twelve on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975"

I have no idea yet what the protag became, but it started at the age of twelve and I'm happy to move to the next sentence and find out more.

My Sister's Keeper:  "When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why."

The Handmaid's Tale: "We slept in what had once been a gymnasium."

The Baron in the Trees: "It was on the fifteenth of June 1767, that Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo, my brother, sat among us for the last time. And it might have been today, I remember it so clearly."

Mr. Calvino's story is a toss-up for a few paragraphs, but I know for sure that the protag is going to be either Cosimo, or the narrator, who is Cosimo's brother. I'm good with that.

Obviously, I have a penchant for first-person narratives. Anyone who has read my work knows it's what I typically write. But look how easy a good first-person narrative makes it for me, the reader. I'm invited to inhabit the narrator's skin. There's no worry for determining point of view, wondering whose head I'm in and determining the protag and where I'm supposed to imprint is easy.

Here's the thing, all stories read like first-person narratives to me, no matter what the actual person it is written in, so long as I have a clear and early protag upon which to imprint and the quality of the actual writing is adequate.

A Confederacy of Dunces begins with a description of Ignatius J. Reilly's hat and what his face looks like. It doesn't matter that the story has a cast of thousands and moves from one POV to the other in an ever spiraling narrative with a fluidity that would make Jean Shepherd proud, I know the protag is Ignatius and I know that the entire narrative, no matter which member of the cast assumes it, serves to tell me his story.

Look at the work of any of the greats: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein and so on. By and large, no matter what the person or POV of the work, I am handed a protagonist in the first line or two.

That makes me a happy. No little duckling wants to spend chapter after chapter asking, "Are you my protag?"

Friday, December 09, 2011

Just when you think the Crazy Pendulum can't swing any higher

...you watch an edition of The Colbert Report and see something about this: 
Parents Warned About Mail Order Chicken Pox Lollipops
What's more nuts:

1) That moms would mail other moms disease-ridden treats? or;
2) That recipients would need to be advised they might not want to give the germ-laced goodies to their offspring?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

They call themselves 'The Flight'

Of course, I bought the MP3. I mean, just LISTEN to them.

Monday, May 02, 2011

What? No autopsy for Bin Laden?

Surely it'd be of scientific interest to learn how he lived with neither heart nor conscience.

Good. Riddance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Steal a Million - Part 1

August 2008

Re: Discovery proceedings regarding the Guardianship petition of My Alzheimer’s Stricken Mother, an alleged incapacitated individual.

Dear Ms. Maboobski:

Thank you for the copies of the three financial documents my youngest sibling claims are all that he found within my very dead and somewhat well-heeled father’s records. Please note that two of those documents, rather large checks totaling $40,000 made out to my father, prior to his aforementioned death, and while he was intubated and comatose in the local ICU, appear to have been written, endorsed and deposited into another account by my youngest sibling, who, you will recall, shares my father’s name and my father’s address, but not my father’s credit rating or high moral standing. Perhaps it would be wise to bring this irregularity to the Judge’s attention, and seek that my Alzheimer-stricken mother's financial matters, as well as her checkbook, be turned over to the current Power of Attorney, my sister, and not be left in the hands of the aforementioned heavily in debt and usually jobless youngest sibling.

My mother’s much-concerned other daughter of many decades

August 2008

Memo to Judge Oops
From: Ms. Maboobski, Court-appointed Friend of the Judge for what-her-name’s mother, an alleged incapacitated individual with a pretty large bank account.

In the matter of the alleged Alzheimer’s-stricken but well-heeled widow of the much-mourned dead Estate Planning Attorney with the leaky bank accounts. To prevent further embarrassing, obvious and inconvenient forged checks from coming to light, I move that you limit discovery in this case to only those items which have transpired since the deceased’s, uh…death.

P.S. My most recent billing for services is enclosed. It’s so high because of obvious and grievous tension between the demented lady's children documented by attached letter recounting outrageous accusations of financial impropriety on the part of my client’s youngest offspring, an impossibility because said offspring told me himself that his father WANTED HIM TO HAVE IT. Also, said ‘much concerned other daughter’ has failed to bring forth a legal expert who can prove that comatosity precludes an individual’s spontaneous ability to gift large sums of money to indigent children.

August 2008

From: Judge Oops, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania’s Well-heeled Widows and Orphan’s Court
To: Everybody involved, whatever your names are

So ordered, whatever Ms. Maboobski said in her memo, which I can’t be bothered to read because I’m late to my tee time. And whatever you charged, Boobs, is just fine by me. I’m sure it’s reasonable and legal and ethical and all that stuff. By the way, everybody’s still raving about those perogies you brought to the pot luck. Send me the recipe?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fast Food - Italian Style

What's to eat? After a week in Tahoe and all those hours in the car, NOBODY was into doing anything about dinner. Ever resourceful, this writer pulled a trusty pouch of proscuitto from her private stock, then sent the hungry hordes out to the garden to pick their favorite lettuces to wrap it therein.

Best part? No dishes.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have an organic garden, so my garden trowel trembled to see this deal. Seeds of Change is offering 25 packets of free, organic seeds for a total of $4.99 in shipping charges. You can't pick the seeds and you'll have to wait two to four weeks for them to arrive. Judging from what The Weather Channel tells me, that's fine for those of you in snow-packed parts of the country, and plenty of time for those of us in sunny Phoenix and Florida to plant our fall gardens.

Here's the link. There are no strings attached. Any seeds you don't like pass on to your neighbor. Gardeners know this is a screaming deal. Non-gardeners...seriously, give it a shot. Start with some herbs in an outdoor pot on your patio. All you have to do is plant and water. Basil is easy.

Then you can invite your neighbors for pasta with homemade pesto.

Then they'll love you.

They really will.


Note: Thanks to 3-month-supply, a Yahoo Group, interested in healthy and sane emergency preparedness for this info.